Los Angeles Times

10 places to take a house guest

Everybody loves the city this season. So, if you have guests from out of town, here are a choice of places to take them.


Serendipity 3 Take your frineds out shopping at Bloomingdale's, then head over to Serendipity for a late lunch or a snack. The salads and omelets are perfectly respectable, but the burger is the main event. To go with it, there's the frozen hot chocolate, which is what made the place famous in the first place. (Burgers, $10-$17.50; frozen hot chocolate, $7.50; 225 E 60th Street; 212-838-3531)

Rolf's. No matter where they come from, they've never seen a place that looks like Rolf's when it's decked out for the season: lights twinkle and boughs of greenery festoon the walls and windows. Go early -- they serve all day, starting at 11:30 a.m.; at this time of year, the place gets packed, and the service suffers in proportion to the crowds. The specialty of the house is the suckling pig, but stick with the simple dishes -- potato pancakes, wursts, and the like. (Appetizers: $7.50-$11.95; mains, $11.95-$37; 281 Third Avenue, 212-212-473-8718)

Balthazar. Balthazar may not be as of-the-moment as it once was, but it can still delight an out-of-towner's eye. Add to that, a menu that caters to just about everyone, and prices that go relatively easy on the wallet. Keep in mind, they're open all day, from breakfast to late lunch, and it's a great place to stop after shopping, for a drink and a bite. (Appetizers: $9.50-$23; mains, $19.50-$36; 80 Spring Street; 212-965-1414)

The Modern. Enough with the shopping. Let's have a little culture, please. You can trail an out-of-towner through the Museum of Modern Art, then surprise them with Danny Meyer's sleek incarnation of a museum cafe. Dinner here can get very grand, the setting is as sleek as the rest of the museum, and the food, as you might expect from Meyer, is well up to the mark. (Three-course prix-fixe: $85; Museum of Modern Art; 9 West 53rd Street; 212-333-1220)

Otto. If the city has a favorite dish, pizza is probably it. Otto's pizzas are perfectly made, with a crispy crust and just enough topping. Besides, the place is right in the heart of the Village, convenient for a late afternoon glass of wine and a quick bite. (Pizza, $9-$14; pasta, $9; 1 Fifth Avenue; 212-995-9559)

Grand Central Oyster Bar. They can meander through Grand Central and check out the famous acoustics and the holiday fair, then head downstairs for the best oysters in town. They wouldn't touch the things, you say? Well, then, they can have a bowl of classic clam chowder at the counter or a full meal under the arches in the dining room -- and don't forget to brag about the tilework. (Appetizers: $8.75-$22.95; mains, $18.95-$28.95; Grand Central Terminal; 212-490-6650)

Katz's Delicatessen. It's nothing to look at unless you count the send-a-salami-to-your-boy-in-the-army sign. But it's been in the movies and it's the oldest deli in town. Plus, it's got plenty of New York attitude and it's own quirky way of taking an order. Go after a session of shopping on the Lower East Side: A pile of hand-carved pastrami on rye is just the thing to bring the folks back down to earth. And do order them a Cel-Ray soda. (Sandwiches: $7.35-$14.85; 205 East Houston Street; 212-254-2246)


Peter Luger. Your Dad likes steak. So you might as well feed him what's been called the best piece of meat in America -- the Porterhouse here at Luger's. The menu doesn't go much beyond that, the waiters can be brusque, and the surroundings aren't fancy. But if he likes steak with the traditional side dishes, this is the place. One caution: Prices are high and they don't take cards. Bring cash or a debit card. (Steak for two, $79; 178 Broadway, Williamsburg; 718-387-7400)

Junior's. OK. So, it's not fancy. But generations of Brooklynites have been settling in and chowing down on the likes of roast chicken, meat loaf, and brisket. Why should you be any different? And then, of course, there's the cheesecake. (Main courses: $13.75-$29.95. Cheesecake: $4.95-$5.75. 386 Flatbush Avenue; 718-852-5257)


Dominick's. Forget Manhattan's Little Italy. Long ago, it became a colony to Chinatown. The Bronx's Arthur Avenue has a classic market, which sells cheese, fruit, pastry -- you name it. But the neighborhood's true star is Dominick's, which has been around forever. Get used to the idea that there are communal tables, and there's no menu: It's hard to say what's best, but if they have the seafood pasta, you're in luck. Remember, this is family-style Italian dining. So the portions are huge. ($35-$45; 2335 Arthur Avenue; 718-733-2807. Note: They don't take credit cards)

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